One of the DART Bus/Pedestrian Accidents Goes to Trial

Over the past few years, there have been several personal injury incidents during which pedestrians were run over by a DART bus and injured. A lawsuit filed by one of those pedestrians went to trial this week in Des Moines. Here is the link to the Des Moines Register Article:

DM Register Article

This will be a case of which version of events, the bus driver’s or the pedestrian’s, the jury finds more believable. Eyewitness testimony, if any, will also play an important role. But what about the other bus/pedestrian accidents. Can the pedestrian use those other incidents to help prove his case? Can the pedestrian offer evidence concerning DART’s policy changes for making turns? The answer, as it often is with legal matters, is maybe. That is up to the trial judge. The judge also has authority to limit the uses for which this evidence can be introduced.

Under Iowa’s rules of evidence, proof of other wrongs cannot be used to prove that a party was negligent in the particular case being considered. It may be admissible for other purposes though, such as proving knowledge or absence of a mistake or accident.

The policy changes that DART made after its buses began hitting people may be considered “subsequent remedial measures.” Subsequent remedial measures are not admissible to prove negligence in connection with the accident that is at issue. Such measures can be used for other purposes, for example proving that measures that could have avoided the accident were available to the defendant if the defendant argues that greater precautions were not possible.

If you or a family member have been involved in a accident that causes personal injury or wrongful death and need legal representation, please contact Erbe Law Firm today to see if I can give you a hand.

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EMPLOYMENT LAW: EMPLOYER LIABILITY FOR RE-HIRING A SUPERVISOR THAT WAS PREVIOUSLY FIRED FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT, RACIAL HARASSMENT, OR NATIONAL ORIGIN HARASSMENT

It rarely happens, but it does occasionally — An employer re-hires someone that it had previously fired for sexual harassment, racial harassment, or national origin harassment.  That can create serious exposure to future suit if the employee commits the same conduct after being re-hired.  That can happen in a few ways.                                   

For non-supervisory co-employees, the victim must prove that the employer knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to stop it.  Proving the “knew or should have known” component can be difficult if neither the employee nor anyone else complained to management about the co-worker’s behavior.  Information that the employee had harassed other people and been fired for it can help prove that the employer “should have known” what was occurring. 

For cases in which an employee is harassed by a supervisor, the law immunizes the employer from liability if it can prove that it exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct any harassment and that it had anti-harassment policies in place that the victim did not utilize.  A few courts have determined that re-hiring a known harasser plays into the “reasonable care” portion of the employer’s immunity in the sense that an employer may not be acting reasonably if it re-hires someone that it had previously fired for harassment.   

Erbe Law Firm is currently prosecuting a federal employment lawsuit in which Erbe Law Firm’s client was sexually harassed by a supervisor who had previously been fired for violating the employer’s sexual harassment policy.  The judge has ruled that the case is “unique” and that Erbe Law Firm is entitled to introduce evidence of the supervisor’s earlier harassment and termination on the issue of whether the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent sexual harassment.  That case is scheduled to be tried to a federal jury in May 2010.